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20+ Holiday Movies To Watch With Your Kids

Written by Sara Langer

There’s something about the month of December that makes most of us loosen the rules around sugar consumption and screen time. There’s no denying the magic of snuggling up on the couch on a brisk winter day and enjoying a good movie. And screen time doesn’t always mean taking a break from learning: we’ve covered the topic of co-viewing and the importance of what and how your children watch media versus only focusing on the quantity of time they’re enjoying it. Co-viewing is similar to the way many parents treat reading to their kids, especially for preschoolers and other young children. It’s a time to cuddle, focus your attention together, and share the experience of seeing and hearing the same thing, just like story time. And with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be recharging for both you and your family to take some time to cozy up together and get lost in a film. To help ease the process of picking out a good flick, and to get you in the holiday mood, we’ve rounded up a bunch of the classic holiday movies for kids, along with a few newer options, that you can enjoy with your favorite crew. Take your pick, below!

The Snowman, 2+
Raymond Briggs acclaimed wordless picture book was turned into a charming short film. A young boy befriends a snowman and together they journey through the night. There is no dialogue and the animation isn’t fast-paced or overstimulating, making it a great option for the little ones.
Available on YouTube.

The Snowy Day, 3+
Another book-based holiday film, this one comes from Ezra Jack Keets’ beloved The Snowy Day tale, which is brought to life by narrators Laurence Fishburne, Regina King, and youngster Donielle Hansley. We love the celebration of different cultures in this made-for-Amazon flick.
Available on Amazon Prime.

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas, 3+
Curious George is counting down the days until Christmas, but he still does not know what to give his friend, The Man in the Yellow Hat. This innocent and uplifting movie is great for the littlest kids and focuses on giving during the holiday season.
Available on Amazon Prime.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, 3+
This stop-motion holiday TV special from the ’60s has remained a Christmas favorite. There is a great message about nonconformity and being yourself and there is something beautiful about the simple, pre-computer animation. Be advised there are a few scary scenes, some displays of bullying, and a bit of sexist language.
Available to rent or purchase on Amazon, free for Prime members. 

A Muppet Family Christmas, 3+
This short and sweet holiday musical is great for the youngest viewers. The movie missed an opportunity to introduce Hanukkah or other non-Christian holidays and instead the story focuses on an imaginary alternative holiday to Christmas. However, overall it’s an innocent and playful program.
Available for free on YouTube.

A Charlie Brown Christmas, 3+
The peanuts crew come together in this old-school favorite. This film has more of a focus on the religious aspect of Christmas than some of the other holiday films. Lucy is not the nicest character and calls names throughout the movie, but it’s a good talking point on how we should treat one another. Otherwise, there are many good lessons about the importance of family and friends.
Available for purchase on Amazon.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, 3+
The New York City Ballet stage production of the Nutcracker was brought to the big screen in 1993. Other than a small amount of narration, there is no dialogue, but Tchaikovsky’s original score will bring back childhood memories for many parents.
Available on Netflix.

Frosty the Snowman, 3+
A great sing-along story that will likely stir up some nostalgia for many parents.  A young girl helps Frosty make his way back to the North Pole in search of his magic hat. Friendship and kindness are a big focus on this family film. It’s only 30 minutes long, making it another great option for the youngest members of your family.
Available on YouTube.

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, 4+
There have been a few movie adaptations of The Grinch, each a bit different. If you want an option that’s good for younger children, go with the original film, based on the beloved book, released in 1966. Older children might enjoy the more modern versions; Jim Carrey starred as the Grinch in 2000 and the new animated version is in theaters now.
The original version is available on Amazon and the Jim Carrey version is available on Amazon Prime.

Angela’s Christmas, 4+
A new Netflix original based on the book, Angela and the Baby Jesus, about a young girl in 1900’s Ireland. The film has a religious focus, but also emphasizes the importance of family. At only 30 minutes, it’s a good option for young children, especially if you’re wanting to share the religious history of the holiday.
Available on Netflix.

The Polar Express, 5+
A young boy travels to the North Pole on The Polar Express in search of Santa. The movie adaptation of the popular children’s book is full of beautiful imagery as the boy adventures through a roller coaster of peril and thrills. The are many positive messages, such as the importance of friendship, courage, kindness, and honesty.
Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Magic Snowflake, 6+
This movie is a charming  Christmas story with a message about maintaining a childlike wonder during the holidays, even though there are stresses that come along with it. The Magic Snowflake is the sequel to the movie Santa’s Apprentice, although you do not need to watch that first in order to enjoy this sweet film.
Available on Amazon Prime.

Klaus, 6+
Klaus is new animated holiday comedy that takes place in the fictional island village of Smeerensburg, where spoiled young postman Jesper strikes up an unlikely friendship with a local carpenter/toymaker named Klaus, who will start to seem pretty familiar to fans of Old Saint Nick. Together they help the residents of their town see past their differences and find joy in celebrating together.
Available on Netflix.

Home for the Holidays, 7+
This holiday special based on the movie Home features a diverse cast of characters, including a strong female at the center of the story. This film also includes the Jewish traditions of Hanukkah, which has been scarce in most mainstream holiday films.
Available on Netflix.

The Nightmare Before Christmas, 7+
Tim Burton’s dark fantasy lands of Halloween Town and Christmas Town set the stage for this holiday cult classic. This is a twist on the traditional jubilee of most holiday films, but the intriguing darkness can be appreciated by older children and adults alike.
Available for rent or purchase on Amazon and streaming on Hulu.

Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, 7+
A holiday classic from the ’90s, this John Hughes slapstick-style comedy will have both parents and children laughing. Beware there is some violence and name-calling in the film that may not be suitable for younger viewers.
Available for rent or purchase on Amazon.

Elf, 7+
Will Ferrell is our favorite Christmas elf in this light-hearted comedy. Santa spoiler: though never explicitly stated, there are some references to the idea that Santa may not be real. If you have believers in your house, you may want to wait a few years for this one. There are adult themes and foul language as well, but overall it’s a super fun movie that is entertaining for adults and older children.
Available for rent or purchase on Amazon.

The Christmas Chronicles, 8+
A new adventure-themed Christmas movie from Netflix that is great for tweens. After accidentally  sneaking onto Santa’s sleigh, a brother and sister cause Santa to crash. From there they embark on a mission to save Christmas. The sequel, The Christmas Chronicles 2, is just as great as the first!
Available on Netflix.

A Christmas Story, 8+
A Christmas Story has become a must-see holiday classic. Its 1940s setting offers an appealing sense of nostalgia, but much of the humor and heartache is something any kids can relate to. Ralphie is a 9-year-old boy in living in suburban Indiana dealing with a seemingly endless wait for his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, a nasty bully, and an overworked department-store Santa, and an (as-of-yet) unfulfilled wish for a Red Rider bb gun. There are some dated stereotypes, a school yard fight, and some curse words—although Ralphie gets a lesson in cleaning up his language in one memorable scene.
Available on Amazon Prime.

The Santa Clause, 8+
Spoiler Alert: Santa dies pretty early on in this film, although he is soon replaced by a “new Santa.” If your child still believes in Santa, they probably won’t be ready for this one, but it’s a funny and heartwarming movie for older children and parents. Some potty humor and more mature themes, such as divorce and death.
Available on Amazon Prime.

It’s a Wonderful Life, 9+
An old-time Christmas classic. At the story’s center is George Bailey, a man with big plans and an even bigger heart, which keeps him from leaving his hometown. When George wishes he was never born, an angel shows him the tremendous impact he has had on his community. There is a fight scene and some dated behavior and traditions that may lead to interesting conversations with older children, but overall a feel-good movie with a nice lesson about giving back.
Available on Amazon Prime.

Have a favorite holiday film we didn’t list above? Please let us know in the comments below!

This article was originally published in December 2019.

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